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6 days til Christmas...

Hurrah! Only six sleeps til Christmas. Are you all as marvelated by that thought as I am? I sat and watched all the songs in Beauty and The Beast: An Enchanted Christmas last night and sang along very loudly, under the glittering fairy lights while Darren played Final Fantasy Online. Aw, bless the little nerd ;) Although, I was labouring under the delusion that I was his final fantasy. Boo to that I say, BOO! Anyway, it was a most pleasant festive evening – my adorable little sister Hannah gave me the most beautiful Christmas gift. She remembered that when I was little I really liked my Grandma's (who passed away in 1993) mirror with a coca cola imprint on it. She had recently found it in the attic, and had it all cleaned up for me. Sniff. I was really touched. And this just a couple of weeks after mamazapping had found a really old pic of her dad when he was young (he died during world war II) and he looks exactly like me! Or rather I look exactly like him. So it was nice to get all this family heritage so close to Christmas (although mama and papa z are still disgruntled that no one commented on their festive pics, lol. They are more needy than me!!) Right on with the post!!
Obviously, the finale of the ZZZ Factor reminded me of some of the other bright young hopefuls that stood on that stage and got recording contracts. Kelly Clarkson and William Young seem to have established careers from it. G4 are a solid touring and album act. I'm still hopeful that Shayne Ward will be given something better than his debut album. But someone who really should have been releasing a greatest hits this year was Gareth Gates. A string of 7 top five hits and suddenly he is unceremoniously dropped? I still don't get it – I mean he'd even got rid of the spiky hair, buffed up and got somewhere bordering semi-hot. The first album spawned hit after hit (Unchained Melody, the pure pop of Anyone Of Us, Suspicious Minds and What My Heart Wants To Say) and it seemed that Gareth might surpass Will as the hitmaker from Pop Idol. It was the marketing of the crucial second album that took a hit. It started off extremely well with a jaunty remake of Spirit In The Sky, complete with The Kumars, a rather jolly video and some excessively gay backing dancers. Six months later in September 2003 (soon to feature in my perfect months of pop retrospecticus) he released the excellent Sunshine, a song with summer fun baked right into the title and a more sophisticated take on pop than anything his debut album offered up. Yet because it "only" made number 3, rumblings had already started that Gareth's time had passed. The double album Go Your Own Way made 11 in a busy festive period and Simon Cowell was on record everywhere saying that the next single needed to be a hit for Gareth. Eek! I mean, where's the confidence? Where's the love? An epic sweeping ballad, Say It Isn't So ,peaked at number four in the rush up to Christmas and it seemed that the revelations that Gareth had lied about an incident with Jordan (who then went on to detail how his willy had fallen out of her 'bucket' several times – seriously that's meant to make HIM look bad?!) had unfairly taken their toll as promotion of the sophomore effort ceased. Which is such a shame. Say was a great single that showcased Gareth's increasingly mature vocal and there were plenty of other gems to be found on the album. It was rumoured that a third release was to be All Cried Out (which Totally Boyband fans may remember was touted as the single for them) which I don't think was a great choice. I would have gone with a remix of Foolish, written by Tyler James then the strange but compulsively addictive MJ-esque Skeletons, complete with a tongue in cheek video about the Jordan saga…Then kicked off a third album with a great upbeat single for Christmas 2004. But it was not to be. Time will tell if Gareth's documentary will provide him with the comeback he deserves – I still think my idea of a duet with Eton Road on the Tommy Page track would be a corker ;)
LINK: Buy Gareth's Go Your Own Way
MP3: Gareth Gates – Skeletons
MP3: Gareth Gates – Say It Isn't So
Sigh. It's a constant battle between iTunes, Napster and even AOL to get you to download music from their respective sites. The downside of that is you may often have two or three different online music sources on your computer. The benefit is that often they will get artists to do exclusives for them that you can't get anywhere else. Yahoo music got Keane to cover Depeche Mode and The Feeling to do Muse earlier this year. iTunes often gets extra album tracks and exclusive remixes. This week Napster have scored a coup in getting an acoustic session from Mika. Now, we first wrote about Mika back here and although we weren't the first to highlight him, he certainly wasn't as ubiquitous as he seems to be now. Almost universally classed as the brightest new hope for 2007, it seems like he has been around for ever. And with free guilt free downloads over at Arjanwrites and a single and EP out on iTunes, there is certainly a wealth of music available. On napster, Mika sticks to his best material. Grace Kelly (out in January) certainly deserves to be huge as it channels Freddie Mercury, the Scissor Sisters and even elements of glam rock into a huge glistening disco ball of a track. Billy Brown sounds as fresh and entertaining as ever and even a cover of Harry Nilson's Everybody's Talking has a certain spit and polish about it that completely endears. Listen, people, if you are not on the Mika train already, it's time to buy a ticket as you are only going to look foolish standing alone on the platform in a few months time…
LINK: Purchase Mika's Dodgy Holiday EP
MP3: Mika – Grace Kelly (Napster Session)
MP3: Mika – Everybody's Talking (Napster Session)
BONUS MP3: Amy Winehouse – To Know Him Is To Love Him(Napster Session)
I laughed so hard when I read Samuel's comments about myspace. He said he gets so many crap bands trying to add him that it's rare when you come across the good ones. I used to get no one add me and searched out a lot of the bands that I have featured on this pages this year and ended up loving – some for good, and some just for the moment in which I found them. Now I do get hundreds of add requests, although I'm still in the na├»ve stage of believing that they all do want to be my friends ;) Anyway, here are three of the latest and greatest, all from within our great continent of Europa!

Appearances can be deceiving, and on closer inspection, it turns out Aaron is not naked in the shots above (oh like you all weren't checking it out too!). This young man is from the fair isle of England and yet produces pop like he's been raised by Max Martin, with a little cloning from xenomania. His voice has this great unique quality that is a little bit smoky, surprisingly mature yet brimming with pop purity. It adds a needed edge to his tunes that will help him compete in a tough market. Aaron has an album already for release on March 12th 2007. Lead off single Warzone is a funk driven track that percolates along nicely until it jumps up and smacks you with a killer chorus. Similarly, the dancetastic Build Me Up does exactly the same and would sound great remixed and pumping out in a club. And it would work will with a hot sweaty video too on MTV ;) It's not all dance pop though and Aaron showcases a tender sensitive side on The Last Goodbye, a dreamy ballad that is both effortless and heartbreaking and so deserving of a top ten placing this time next year in the Christmas chart. As I listened to more songs, I realised that the top notch production and unique voice is what raises Aaron from teen pop idol (though he fills that category with his looks) to credible artist. Further tracks like Looking Good and All Fall Down show that Aaron can straddle different genres and write songs that are at home on the dancefloor (LG) or be perfectly home on AC radio or sold onto a boyband (All Fall Down), while Lonely Boy definitely has a flamenco feel to it and is infinitely better than anything Ricky Martin has produced lately. A delight from start to finish. Definitely one to keep an eye on to see how he progresses…
Allan Stage has amazing hair. I just needed to start off with that little fact. And he has good popstar choice in clothes, so double hurrah before you even get to the music. I actually had a piece written about Allan from about a month ago, and totally forgot to post it, so I have updated it a little and finally got it onto the site! Allan reminds me a little of Darren Hayes crossed with his own unique little take on pop music. Young Days is a beat driven rock-pop song with a crystalline vocal and a chorus that seems so unassuming but will soon intrude into your mind and refuse live. Velvet Princess is a piano driven ballad, with mournful lyrics and a gradual building instrumentation that adds power and class to the tune. There is some lovely vocal layering on the second chorus too - a favourite musical technique of mine when done properly. See This goes a little bit r'n'b and again, as with Aaron, I would love to hear some great remixes of this track. Allan is from Denmark and hopefully will be popping over to England with these songs soon. Plus he's friends with 3nity who i featured a while back so it's all good :)

Soren is also a native from Denmark and before we progress any further let us pause a moment to say RAR! If anyone ever looked more ready to be a popstar then it's this dude. The hair. The total perfection of the white shirt and black tie. That belt. We can only imagine what is below it is equally as perfect. Ahem. Anyway, there is good reason that this young sir is so ready for the world of pop. He was part of super Danish boyband C21 who had some amazing hits like their version of One Night In Bangkok and All That I Want (which was the most played song on Danish radio in 2004 and a track that I was desperate to launch C21 in England). Sadly they split up in 2005 and I'm thrilled to learn that Soren is currently preparing his debut album for release in 2007. In the meantime, Soren has forged a successful acting career which you can read about more on his myspace page. Colour me very excited for some solo C21 action...
LINK: Aaron's myspace page
LINK: Aaron's album streamed
LINK: Allan Stage's myspace page
LINK: Soren's myspace page

I'm not sure whether it's ultimately annoying or not that it is now a foregone conclusion that the X Factor winner will automatically be the Christmas number one. It certainly didn't bother me last year when little Shayney won, but my lesser involvement this year has got me all irritated that now it seems there is no point in trying to be Christmas number one because you don't have a chance…Anyway, here is a quick look at some of the festive lovelies adorning the "b-sides" of this years contenders:
~ George, Old Christmas: I first wrote about George and reviewed his album here. He now has a great festive track out called Old Christmas that takes a somber walk through Christmas past and reminds us of the true values of the season – peace, forgiveness, family and love. It's George's strongest vocal to date and a worthy entry into festive folklaw that kinda reminds me of Let It Snow, the (original) song by BoyzIIMen from their Christmas Interpretations cd…
~ McFly, Rockin Robin: My loveable scamps are turning out Christmas tunes like they are elves in Santa's workshop. And that's ok with me. This latest output is on the cd of their new single Sorry's Not Good Enough and once again highlights their ability to put together some fun instrumentation that showcases their influences of The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Can these boys do no wrong??
~ Puppini Sisters, Little Match Seller: Double A side to their Jingle Bells triumph, this sees the girls don a more serious santa hat as they mix Little Match Seller with Silent Night over the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar. Their harmonies are just completely gorgeous and conjur up visuals of the words they sing. Simply and purely magical.
~ Girls Aloud, Why Do It?: Not a Christmas single in any sense of the word, this is a new song on the flip of the getting more tolerable I suppose I Think We're Alone Now. And it's by far the better song. Another slice of electro crunchy pop (though the Girls may have to move on or subvert this sound once again on their next album), it all seems rather amusing that these 5 lasses are chastising people for being too peer pressure led, drunk, slutty, etc. ho ho ho indeed. Still a mighty fine slice of mince pie b-side for us all to enjoy!!
BONUS MP3: BoyzIIMen – Let It Snow
BONUS MP3: McFly – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town


~ the popjustice lists continue. Here are their fave singles and albums of 2006. I agree with 5 of the singles and just two of the albums. Can you guess which ones? (ooo fun, etc)

~ Excuse us for slightly wanting to marry Nick for all his amazing listiness over at Alien Hits. The Feeling, McFly and Whyte Seeds in best singles? Take that predicatable PJ List :) I have a feeling in 2007 Nick and I will team up and take over the world. Or not. But we could. So be afraid ;)

~ Could we be equally loving the list of top ten tv shows over at the cleverly named EyePod? We definitely like number one and then five six and seven. We're too uneducated to have seen the rest though :(

~ Lets take a break from lists for a minute and enjoy the frolicking fun that Kylie's dancers seem to be having over at Michel's Glamourous World. I particularly am alarmed that some security guards at the airport seemed to allow some man'o'man probing. I thought only I was allowed to do that ;)

~ If Nick and I do take over the world, it will be Poppostergirl who is our campaign manager - we are spookily posting Gareth Gates posts on the same day. More serendipity? And a little spooky. Cue twilight zone music ;)

Coming soon: i'm too tired to think of it right now, but you know you are gonna love it!


  1. Poster Girl said...
    Woo! You know I agree on Gareth :) And Mika! And I was really excited to see C21 mentioned--I'd never heard of them until Don't Stop The Pop's Denmark special, and then I only heard "One Night In Bangkok," so hearing another song from them was great (and I like it)! On Aaron: I was pleasantly surprised with some of his songs--I expected "Cry Baby" to a ballad but it was not, and I like "One And Only Love," too (still working my way through the second half)!
    Paul said...
    Yay! I will have to see if i can get Gareth's documentary onto the internet for you, though if i don't i'm sure someone will. Yeah, i really like Aaron, he has some great music. It's savvy that he has targeted and had some success in pop friendly Japan first. Clever boy...All That I Want is a great C21 song! I think Pacific Avenue should pilfer it!

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